This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V20", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In the Gardener's Monthly of November Mr. Horace J. Smith has informed us of the large Catalpa in Fairmount Park, and in your note of this old Catalpa you say, "What will these "Western friends think who believe Southern Indiana produces the only hardy Catalpa?" And yet neither Mr. Smith nor yourself have told us whether the Fairmount tree is of the common late blooming colored flower, or the hardy, the early blooming, the large white flower, with large seed pods. The same remark in regard to those of Southern Indiana. Who can tell which variety they are ?
I infer that you think it hardy. We know that many fruit and forest trees are called hardy at Philadelphia that are not considered hardy in Iowa and Northern Illinois, where occasionally we have a Winter that will kill Smith's Cider, Tulpehocken, Baldwin, Newtown Pippin, all the Heart Cherries, and Peaches, and half the Pears and Plums. How is it possible for you to tell the hardy Catalpa from the tender, when both stand the Winters of Philadelphia ? Dr. John A. Warder, of Ohio, was at my house this Fall, and he says that at Dayton, where he discovered that there were two distinct varieties of the Catalpa, they had not discovered the differ-ance in hardiness, because both stand the Winters of Dayton.
We have been too slow in making the important distinction between fruit and forest trees that will live or die when those severe trying Winters come, and come they will, and kill the common tender Catalpa and our tender fruit trees, which may be hardy with you. Dear-bought experience is valuable, and we have it.
[Mr. Barney taught us how to distinguish the Catalpas by the roughness or smoothness of the bark. The hardy Catalpa at Fairmount Park is the tender one. - Ed. G. M].